'Suspended' coffee: The new way java drinkers are spreading the love
Published Sunday, June 16, 2013 12:57PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 16, 2013 2:04PM EDT
Move over fair trade, there's a new form of java justice brewing in Canada.
It's called suspended coffee and it encourages anonymous acts of kindness to complete strangers: when you're buying a coffee at participating cafes, you can also anonymously pre-purchase a warm drink for someone in need to claim at a future time.
The concept started in Italy but is starting to take off across Canada, already reaching Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
While a simple coffee isn't likely to change anyone's life, it will certainly give them a better outlook, according to the owner of a Calgary cafe that suspends an average of five to six coffees a day.
"It's to brighten someone's day, to make them feel better," Nez Hewitt, owner of Roast Coffee and Tea Co., told CTVNews.ca.
"Whenever we find that anybody is having a bad day or a little bit off (we give them a free coffee)," she said. "They don't have to be regulars or … show us their income criteria."
Hewitt fondly remembers giving a free coffee to a downcast man on his way to a funeral.
A few days later, his wife visited the coffee shop to thank them. With tears in her eyes, she told them her husband was "so blown away" by the kind gesture.
"We've become a society that's so disconnected from the way things used to be," Hewitt said, adding that people used to know the members of their community. "These days you don't … even talk to the person behind the bar."
Free coffee sure gets them talking.
Roast Coffee and Tea Co. are even taking the concept one step further: they're thinking about setting up a shop at a Calgary woman's shelter -- equipping them with the tools to make their own drinks.
At least two other coffee shops across Canada are also suspending coffees: Homegrown Hamilton (Hamilton, Ont.) and Tam Tam Café (Langelier, Que.)
A similar movement sprung up in Canada earlier this year as customers at Tim Hortons drive-thrus "poured it forward" by purchasing not only their own order but the order of the car behind them.
"I went to the checkout and the woman told me my coffee was paid for from the vehicle ahead of me," David Dorion told CTV News in March.
"I think that's amazing that other people are willing to do that for someone behind them without even knowing who they are."
A coffee shop in Winnipeg set the "pour it forward" record at 228.
"(It) went on for three hours. It was amazing," Tim Hortons spokeswoman Nadia MacDonald told CTV News in March.